The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at Texas A&M University-Commerce has partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research to hire a faculty member to teach and conduct research in the field of agronomy.
Dr. Grace Flusche Ogden was hired as an assistant professor of agronomy and began her appointment on August 1. Her joint position is split between A&M-Commerce–where she will teach classes each semester and participate in CASNR research initiatives–and AgriLife Research, where she will collaborate with AgriLife researchers across the state to conduct field and greenhouse trials, study trends and collect data for farmers across rural northeast Texas.
What is Agronomy?
According to the American Society of Agronomy, agronomy looks at agriculture from an integrated, holistic perspective. Agronomists are specialists in crop and soil science, as well as ecology. Some topics that agronomists research include:
- Properties of soil
- How soil interacts with the growing crop
- Which nutrients (fertilizers) the crop needs
- How crops grow and develop
- How climate and other environmental factors affect crops at all stages
Agronomy combines many scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry and genetics. Studies of meteorology, climatology and soil science in the context of how it affects plant growth can also inform the field of agronomy.
The joint professorship
Dr. Ogden comes to A&M-Commerce from Muskogee, Okla. She earned her bachelor's and doctoral degrees from Oklahoma State University and her master's from Texas Tech University. Her doctorate focused on plant and soil sciences. The joint professorship is her first university appointment after completing her studies.
Ogden said she originally didn't plan to work in the field of agronomy.
“When I began studying at OSU as an undergrad, I was majoring in Biochemistry with a Pre-Veterinary option,” Ogden said. “But after conducting an undergrad research project in veterinary medicine, I wanted to go in a different direction. I knew I wanted to work in agriculture, so I combined my love of plants and gardening to study plant and soil sciences instead.”
Ogden's background is in weed science and soil science. She has experience in corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean and wheat. Her graduate research focused on weed control through the use of tillage and herbicides, with a special emphasis on soil health. She remarked that as she forms her research program in her new role, her goal is to combine her experiences in weed and soil science to conduct research that addresses the challenges local farmers face and lead to not only increases in production efficiency, but production of high-quality crops.
“The farmers in this area have a long tradition of excellent crop production and are passionate about growing crops here,” Ogden said. “I am ready to get a sense of the data these growers need.”
In addition to her research, she says she is excited to begin teaching at A&M-Commerce and sharing what she learns with AgriLife in the classroom.
“I am very excited to meet and work with our students,” Ogden said. “One thing that has struck me in the limited time I have had meeting students and others on campus is their passion for this university.”
A Budding Partnership
Dr. Randy Harp, dean of CASNR, praised Dr. Ogden and is eager to watch the partnership between A&M-Commerce and AgriLife Research grow.
“This is the first joint professorship we have had with AgriLife Research since 2016,” Harp said. “We look forward to working together to build a research team that can secure grant funding for impactful research for our area.”
He continued: “In recent decades, there has been shifts in research focus on the important fields of urban and sustainable agriculture, but this has left some gaps in data for our rural farmers. We hope this partnership can help bridge the gaps between urban and rural agriculture and provide up-to-date data to rural producers.”
Dr. G. Cliff Lamb, director of A&M AgriLife Research, stated that the hire shows how committed the agency is to its mission.
“This joint hire represents our agency's continuing commitment to strengthening Texas commodities while developing the next generation of research leaders,” Lamb said.
Dr. David Baltensperger, professor and head of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University, touted the hiring as an effective way to use research to engage with students.
As we look to leverage the strengths of Texas A&M University-Commerce and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, shared faculty positions allow us to engage students with cutting edge research that is directed toward the success of Northeast Texas producers,” Baltensperger said. “This position's focus on weed science will address one of the biggest challenges facing regional producers.
Learn more about Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at A&M-Commerce.